Teaching Tip # 5: Would you model what you want your students to learn?

Your maxim should be ‘I do, we do, you do’. It is always a good idea to model for students what they are expected to do or produce, especially for new skills or activities. Showing students what you expect is infinitely more powerful, more meaningful, and more memorable than voice instruction. Here are some tips:

  • Anything and everything your students do repeatedly—lining up during assembly, turning in homework, working in small groups—should be modelled and standardized into a routine.
  • When you model, don’t stand in front of your classroom trying to mimic what you want your students to do. Instead, show them what you expect by actually doing it—as if you’re one of them. Borrow a desk or sit in a table group and go through the precise steps you want your students to take.
  • Break down the modelling into steps. Don’t leave gaps in the instructions that can lead to confusion. Modelling must be highly detailed and every transition from one small step to the next must be demonstrated. It is as if you are creating a visual map for your students, right from start to finish.
  • Don’t explain too much verbally when you are modelling. Your physical movements and actions should do most of the talking for you. Instructions only support your modelling. Your students will hear your words, but it’s their imaginations—picturing themselves in your shoes—that will help them recall.
  • After finishing your modelling session, and after taking questions, let your students practice whatever you have modelled. You can have just one student or a group of students do it first, but before performing live, your whole class must prove they can do it correctly.


Author: Sonali Bhattacharyya


© Oxford University Press